Last influenza season nearly 6,500 Minnesotans were hospitalized with complications from the flu, and five children died from the respiratory illness.

Mayo Clinic family medicine specialist Dr. Tina Ardon said the flu vaccine is the best defense against seasonal flu because, “Our younger children and our older adults definitely can get more sick from the flu,” and added that, “Patients who are already sick with other chronic conditions, or are undergoing chemotherapy are more likely to have complications.”

Seasonal flu is a virus that attacks your respiratory system. Most people get better on their own, but the flu can be serious for some. Ardon said complications include bronchitis, pneumonia, and heart problems and, “The vaccine for influenza is one of the best defenses we have.”

She explained that some people don’t get the flu vaccine because they think it could cause the flu, but, “The flu vaccine is what we call a dead vaccine, so you cannot get the actual flu from the flu vaccine.”

FluMist, while safe for most people, contains a weakened form of the virus, so people with certain conditions should get a shot instead.

Dr. Ardon said it takes two weeks for the vaccine to work, and she recommended that people get their flu shots now.